Newly published article by Alice Nikuze, Richard Sliuzas and Johannes Flacke (ITC University of Twente) – “From Closed to Claimed Spaces for Participation: Contestation in Urban Redevelopment Induced-Displacements and Resettlement in Kigali, Rwanda”
In many cities and urban areas in Africa, land acquisition for urban redevelopment, land readjustment, and resettlement of affected urban residents are currently framed as innovative approaches to eradicating informal settlements, improving the living environments, and supporting the implementation of newly adopted city Master Plans. Nevertheless, it is not yet known how the responses of institutions and affected people shape these processes. Based on research conducted in Kigali, Rwanda, this article discusses affected residents’ responses to land expropriation and resettlement necessary for urban redevelopments. Our findings show that affected informal settlement dwellers voiced their concerns over the deviations from the Expropriation Law, compensation decision-making made behind closed doors, lack of transparency in property valuation, and compensation packages that they perceive to be unfair. Some of the consequences of these concerns are strong feelings of unfairness, exclusion, and marginalisation; distrust and increased perceptions of impoverishment risks, all of which fuel contestation and resistance attitudes among the affected landowners. The affected landowners agitate to assert their rights and stake their claims through contestations, community mobilisation, and legal recourse. We conclude that such contestations constitute claimed spaces and interactions in which affected landowners are laying claim to fair processes against the ‘’exceptionality’’ and the “decide-defend” decision-making approaches, while local authorities assert legitimacy of their decisions. Critically, informal households affected by urban redevelopments see opportunities for participation in their resettlement decision-making as fundamental to securing their future.